ASD children and diet: things you can do

A new reader of Love Tears & Autism contacted me today asking for advice on tweaking her ASD son's diet.

Now, I hasten to say that I am not an expert in this area. If you want to get into ASD and diet issues, there is a LOT of reading out there that you can do, starting with every book listed on on the MINDD site. (If you've never looked through this website, I really recommend that you do!)

However, here is a list of things that we do to get you started.

Start with a basic gluten and casein free diet. Casein is the protein found in dairy. There are quite a few good 'GFCF' products on the supermarket shelves, including bread which is reasonable when fresh or toasted. We replace milk with rice milk. Check out the net for a much greater variety of products. If you're doing this, you need to do it properly - no little gluten or dairy nibbles here and there.

Eat protein-rich, especially at breakfast. Our doctor suggested avoiding cereal for breakfast altogether and going with dinner leftovers from the night before. I have to add that we have had a lot of problems doing this as my son really loves his cereal, but we keep trying. We also add a rice-based protein powder to his rice milk shake every night for extra protein. 

Go for as many vegetables and as much meat as you can get into your child, while trying to avoid processed meats.

We try to avoid a lot of soy and corn and sometimes I think about numbers on packets too... I've also been told to avoid chocolate, but he won't take his vitamin B6 in any other form than a doctored chocolate. Having said that, my son does avoid sugar in general, having read the cover of my 'Sweet Poison' book last year, and being one to take things rather literally...

I've been told that organic is good, but hey, we're not all made of money, right?

Drink a lot, especially water.

Go for a good all around vitamin supplement, plus fish oils and extra zinc. However, before you begin supplements you really should take your child to see a MINDD practitioner who will order blood and hair tests to see where your child's body is unbalanced. It's quite common to have high copper and low zinc levels, and to be missing magnesium and other things. But get professional advice before you do this.

There are a lot of specific 'autism' diets out there, including the GAPS diet, the BEDROK diet and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, all of which sound marvellous, but difficult. You'd have to read up about them and weigh up potential advantages versus general lifestyle pain before you decided to bite the bullet, so to speak.

How's that for starters? Does anyone have anything else to add?